Texas Literature Authors Philipp Meyer and Don Graham to Speak at the Bob Bullock Museum

the-son-secondaryThe UT Michener Center for Writers and the Bullock Texas State History Museum will jointly sponsor a conversation between Michener Center alum Philipp Meyer, author of The Son, and Don Graham, J. Frank Dobie Professor of American and English Literature at UT Austin and legendary scholar of Texas literary history.

Their free talk, at 7:00 p.m.Thursday, February 19 at the Bullock, will explore how Meyer’s five years of research led to the prize-winning novel, how Texas mythology and history shaped the story, and how a transplant from Baltimore came to write one of the Great Texas, and Great American, novels.

Meyer received critical acclaim for his 2009 debut novel, American Rust, and The Son, published in 2013, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and named in the Top Ten lists of the Washington Post, Amazon, Toronto Globe and Mail, USA Today and Chicago Tribune, among many other honors.

The New York Times said of the book, “only in the greatest historical novels do we come to feel both the distance of the past and our own likely complicity in the sins of a former age.  To that rank, we now add ‘The Son.'”  Meyer was first introduced to Texas novelists such as Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry—as well as to pivotal events in Texas history that inform his story—in a graduate seminar with Graham while earning his MFA at the Michener Center for Writers.

The program is part of the Bullock Museum’s Texas Art and Culture Series, which is generously supported by Lone Star Beer, the national beer of Texas.  The event is free of charge and open to the public.  The Bullock is located at 1800 Congress Avenue  at W. MLK Blvd.

History Professor Wins Prestigious Book Award for ‘In Search of the Amazon’

This post, authored by Susanna Sharpe, first appeared on the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) website.  

garfieldHistory Professor Seth Garfiel received the prestigious Bolton-Johnson Prize Honorable Mention Award for his book In Search of the Amazon: Brazil, the United States, and the Nature of a Region (Duke, 2013).

The award was announced earlier this month at the annual conference of the American Historical Association in New York City. According to the website of the Conference on Latin American History, the Bolton-Johnson Prize is given to the best book in English on Latin American history published in the previous year, with honorable mention given to “an additional distinguished work deemed worthy” by the prize committee.

Criteria for the award include “sound scholarship, grace of style, and importance of the 978-0-8223-5585-4_prscholarly contribution.” The citation read at the awards ceremony praises Garfield’s work on a complex and often misunderstood topic: “Seth Garfield brings the best methodologies of social and political history into dialogue with new debates over environmental and transnational history. Examining the impact of World War II and the United States’ need for rubber on Brazilian policy in the Amazon, Garfield underscores the role of labor migration from the drought-stricken Northeast and competing efforts by military, medical, religious, and industrial leaders to forge a rational male workforce. The book traces transformations in ideas about race, gender, and family as central components in capitalist exploitation as well as in conceptualizations of ‘nature’ and ‘national resources.’ If contemporary environmental movements portray the Amazon as a pristine forest inhabited by traditional people, Garfield’s book lays bare the heavy presence of people and policy that continually made the Tropics.”

In Search of the Amazon was also selected by Knowledge Unlatched for a pilot open-access program for scholarly books. According to the organization’s website, through this pilot project, Knowledge Unlatched is seeking “a financially sustainable route to Open Access for large numbers of scholarly books.”

Garfield is director of the Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History, and the LLILAS undergraduate faculty adviser. This semester, he will teach the graduate seminar Postcolonial Brazil.

Save the Date: A Reading by Poet Matthea Harvey

ddddThe UT Michener Center for Writers will host a reading by poet Matthea Harvey on Thursday, February 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Avaya Auditorium, POB 2.302, on UT campus at the southeast corner of Speedway and 24th Streets.

Matthea Harvey is the author of five books of poetry, including If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? (2014); Modern Life (2007), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award, and New York Times Notable Book; Sad Little Breathing Machine (2004); and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (2000). She has also written two children’s books, Cecil the Pet Glacier and The Little General and the Giant Snowflake.  She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

Poet Jorie Graham has described Harvey’s syntactically shape-shifting poems as “generous, urgent and savingly committed to beauty.”  New York Times reviewer David Orr has said her work “ranges from daffy to plangent—basically, two scoops of John Ashbery and a sprinkling of Gertrude Stein.”

Parking is available in the nearby UT San Jacinto Garage, and the event is free and open to the public.


Q&A: Sociologist Ben Carrington Talks Race, Sports and Politics

30143_97814129010313Starting today, athletes, head coaches, researchers and academics from across the nation are convening at the Forty Acres to discuss ways to improve academic and career success for Black student athletes. To celebrate The Black Student-Athlete Conference, we are bringing back a post from our archives featuring a Q&A with UT Austin Sociologist Ben Carrington, author of “Race, Sport and Politics” (Sage, Sept. 2010).

Read on to learn more about his research on athletes of color, and how academics can play a critical role in dispelling racial stereotypes that continue to be enforced in the media today. 

Go to this website for more about the conference, hosted by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and two of its units: the African American Male Research Initiative and the Longhorn Campaign for Men of Color. Use #blackstudentathlete to participate in the live Twitter conversation.

This post was originally published in August, 2010.

Benjamin Carrington is an associate professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin.

Ben Carrington is an associate professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Austin.

 What is the major theme of your book? 

I argue that the sociology of sport needs to go beyond some of the traditional ways of thinking about race and sport. Once you understand sport’s historical and contemporary role in shaping racial discourse, you not only see how race impacts sport, but also how sport itself changes ideas about races and racial identity in society as a whole.

How did the world of sports alter perceptions of race during the 20th century?

At the beginning of the 20th century, whites were considered to be superior to blacks, intellectually, aesthetically and even physically. By the 1930s, this logic begins to shift as blacks are viewed as potentially physically superior to whites in matters related to sports. Jack Johnson played a pivotal role in challenging these ideas of white supremacy when he became the first black heavyweight champion of the world, which is supposed to be the epitome of superior physical strength.

What role do you believe does politics play in sports?

Some people argue that sports work like a distorting mirror. It has an ideological effect that makes us believe we’re all happily a part of the same world. In the World Cup, one of the FIFA advertisements stated, ‘this is not about politics, war, religion or economics. It’s about football.’ That makes us feel like we’re all human beings that love the same sport. But in truth it’s all about politics when you see politicians in the stands promoting their countries and wearing their national colors. On one hand it’s an apolitical platform for games and entertainment, but on the other hand sport is deeply infused with political ideology.

Your book argues that the media continues to perpetuate fears of the black male athlete. Could you point out a recent example of this? 
The April, 2008 cover of Vogue generated some controversy over how NBA star LeBron James is depicted with supermodel Gisele Bundchen. In the picture, LeBron has striking similarities to the classic ‘King Kong’ image carrying off Fay Wray, a racially loaded simian metaphor that draws upon white fears about black male hypersexuality and violence. The magazine cover metonymically plays with these deeply racist symbols in using one of the world’s most famous black men to portray a ferocious gorilla carrying off a white woman.

Looking back at the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, could you give me an example of racial bias among the sports media?

When the United States played Ghana in the World Cup, the Ghanaians were often described as both ‘athletic’ and ‘unpredictable.’ That notion implies they’re emotionally unstable, and that even they don’t know what they’re going to do next. But at the same time, they are somehow endowed with extraordinary physical strength and ability, as if the other players at the World Cup are somehow ‘unathletic.’ Their culture is attributed as unstable, so these racial attitudes, which are not just about Ghana but ultimately about all black people, are reproduced in sports. It’s what sociologists refer to as ‘racism without racists.’ Nobody aside from extremists admits to being racist anymore, but we often use ways of seeing the world that rely upon racial frameworks that end up producing racist effects and outcomes. This is what I refer to in the book, drawing on the work of the sociologist Joe Feagin, as the ‘white colonial frame.’ There are no objectively existing ‘races,’ only ways in which we see race, and sport plays a very important role in the production and reproduction of these ideas about race and racial difference.

You argue that black athletes are commonly seen as physically gifted and intellectually stunted. What do you mean by this?

You see this in the way that many people believe that black athletes are ‘naturally’ gifted for sports, implying that their success comes from within, that it is rooted in their biology. This goes hand-in-hand with the idea that there is a split between the physical and the intellectual. Just as we might admire an animal’s spectacular physicality, we don’t therefore assume that animals have our cognitive capabilities. So the praising of black athleticism often serves to reinforce notions of black intellectual inferiority.

How do you believe these stereotypes are perpetuated in the sports media?

White sports commentators and journalists used to be very explicit in comparing black athletes to monkeys and gorillas and cheetahs. Today they are more circumspect and instead tend to over-emphasize black players physical attributes – power, speed, strength and so on – and conversely tend to highlight the ‘intelligence’ and ability to ‘read the game’ of white athletes, who supposedly lack the ‘natural advantage’ of their black peers but can make up for it by their better play-making abilities. You often see this in how white basketball and football players are described, especially quarterbacks.

I would also add that college sports help to perpetuate these myths, especially given how committed big-time college sports programs are to winning conference and national titles using the labor of predominately black ‘student-athletes.’ At the same time, they demonstrate a lack of concern with actually graduating these students, most of whom will not go on to become professional athletes. Thus, these issues are really systemic, running through professional sports to the college level and even into high schools where we see similar patterns.

What kind of reaction do you hope to get from your fellow sociologists after your book is released in September?

The book challenges mainstream sociologists to take sport more seriously than they have done up until now and takes sociologists of sport to task too for not engaging critically enough with questions of race, so I’m hoping there will be a reaction of some kind. Better to be discussed and debated than ignored is my motto right now.


Humanities Texas Holiday Book Fair on Dec. 6

Humanities Texas will host its sixth annual Holiday Book Fair at the historic Byrne-Reed House on the corner of 15th and Rio Grande Streets in downtown Austin on Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


 A number of noteworthy authors, including Lawrence Wright, Sarah Bird, James Magnuson, Elizabeth Crook, S. C. Gwynne, Naomi Shihab Nye, Bill Wittliff, Carrie Fountain, M. M. McAllen, Jacqueline Jones, Richard Parker, Margaret Lewis Furse, John Taliaferro, Wayne Thorburn, Emilio Zamora, Chris Tomlinson, James E. Bruseth, Tracy Dahlby, and Steve Wilson, will visit with the public and sign copies of their latest books, which Humanities Texas will offer for purchase at a discounted price. Available titles include works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry with selections for both adult and youth audiences.

Humanities Texas will have books available for purchase at a discounted price, with all proceeds benefiting Texas libraries. Free parking will be available in the St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church lot on the northwest corner of 15th and Rio Grande Streets.

Coffee will be available alongside a sale of homemade and donated pastries and baked goods. All of the proceeds from the bake sale will also benefit Texas libraries.

“Join us for a good read and a good cause,” said Michael L. Gillette, executive director of Humanities Texas.

Please see www.humanitiestexas.org for more details about the event, including a full description of titles and authors.

If you’d like more information about this event, please contact Liz James, coordinator of educational programs at Humanities Texas, at 512.440.1991 ext. 123 or ljames@humanitiestexas.org

UT Press Fall Online Book Sale

2365ecaa6ce119aa9190dbcc31ef5398d22cb3ecThe holidays are upon us and what better gift for those on your list than a book? Get your virtual shopping cart ready for The University of Texas Press online book sale Nov. 10-14.

All titles in a range of subject areas – food, photography, music, film and media studies, and many more—will be eligible for purchase at a 45 percent discount online, plus free domestic shipping for all campuses in the University of Texas System.

In order to receive the special discount, you must use a special coupon code at check out. All information about the sale, including check out instructions, can be found on this website.

Important details:

-All titles on our site are already 33 percent off. Faculty, staff and students will receive an additional discount off the full retail price for a total of 45 percent off.

-Use the code UTPF14 at checkout to reduce your purchase price to a 45 percent discount.

-Sales tax will be added to your total.

New Book Offers Behind-the-Scenes Look at Acclaimed Richard Linklater Film “Boyhood”

Boyhood-Book-cover A new book from the University of Texas Press presents more than 200 images taken over 12 years on the set of director Richard Linklater’s critically acclaimed new film, Boyhood.

Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film features photos by Austin-based photographer Matt Lankes, along with commentary by Linklater, actors Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and others to create a behind-the-scenes portrait of the film. Cathleen Sutherland, a University of Texas at Austin alumna and the film’s producer, also provides commentary.

In 2002, Linklater began filming the “Untitled 12-Year Project.” He cast four actors (Arquette, Hawke, Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater) in the role of a family and filmed them each year over the next dozen years. Seen through the eyes of a young boy in Texas, Boyhood unfolds as the characters—and actors—age and evolve, the boy growing from a soft-faced child into a young man on the brink of his adult life, finding himself as an artist.

Lankes captured the progression of the film and the actors through the lens of a 4×5 camera, creating a series of arresting portraits and behind-the-scenes photographs. His work documents Linklater’s unprecedented narrative that used the real-life passage of years as a key element to the storytelling. Revealing, personal recollections by the actors and filmmakers accompany the photographs.


“Unlike the film, which embodies the passing of time, Matt Lankes’ stills and portraits capture something very different—single moments suspended in time,” Linklater wrote in the foreword. “I have really been looking forward to the day all his work, this long-term photographic project, could be viewed as one collection. I’m so glad this book exists as a gallery of his portraits and a testament to the memories that we created in making Boyhood.”

Lankes is a professional photographer whose clients include Livestrong, HBO, Fox Searchlight, Texas Monthly, Interview, Time Inc., Newsweek, GSD&M, Austin Monthly, Lee Jeans, Random House, Warner Brothers, Cowboys and Indians, Chevrolet, and Pentagram Design. His work is in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian and the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.

The 200-page book will be published November 1. It features 214 color and black and white photos.


Michener Center Presents Reading by America’s “Pugilistic Poet” August Kleinzahler

member_image_13229290248615022461Acclaimed poet August Kleinzahler will present a reading at a campus event hosted by the Michener Center for Writers on Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. in the Avaya Auditorium, POB 2.302.


Kleinzahler’s impressive body of work is a hybrid of high and low influences, mixing street-smart language and articulate cultural references with his unique brand of hard-boiled whimsy. His outsider stance has also gained him a reputation as a literary bad-boy, the “pugilistic poet,” duking it out with both pop culturists—somewhat famously, Garrison Keillor, over his folksy “Good Poems” anthology—and academics alike. Kleinzahler’s literary fame has built steadily over four decades.


He published a handful of poetry books with independent presses before New York publisher Farrar Straus & Giroux picked up his 1995 “Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow.” They have published his last six books, as well as revived earlier work in new editions.  


Kleinzahler won the distinguished Griffin International Poetry Prize in 2004 for “The Strange Hours Travelers Keep,” and his new and selected poems, “Sleeping it Off in Rapid City” (2008), was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award. His prose also regularly appears in the London Review of Books and Slate, among others, and he has published a volume of meditative essays, “Cutty One Rock:  Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained.” His newest book of poems is “The Hotel Oneira,” which the Guardian describes as “dreamlike yet savvy, among the most delightful flowerings of American poetry in our times.”


The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the nearby UT San Jacinto Garage.

‘Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an’ Author Wins $10,000 Hamilton Book Award

Denise Spellberg, grand prize winner of the Hamilton Book Awards.

Denise Spellberg, grand prize winner of the Hamilton Book Awards.

Denise Spellberg, professor in the Departments of History, Middle Eastern Studies and Religious Studies, won the $10,000 grand prize at the Hamilton Book Awards for her work “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders.” (Knopf, 2013) on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

The awards are the highest honor of literary achievement given to published authors at The University of Texas at Austin. They are sponsored by the University Co-operative Society.

TJQIn “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders,” Spellberg recounts how a handful of the country’s founders, Jefferson foremost among them, drew upon Enlightenment ideas about the tolerance of Muslims to fashion a practical foundation for governance in America. For more about the book listen to her podcast on the History Department’s Not Even Past website.

Four other UT Austin professors received $3,000 runner-up prizes:

– Desmond F. Lawler — Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering, for his work “Water Quality Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Processes,” co-authored with Mark Benjamin, University of Washington; Published by John Wiley & Sons

– Huaiyin Li — Department of History, for his work “Reinventing Modern China: Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing”; Published by University of Hawaii Press

– Allison E. Lowery — Department of Theatre and Dance, for her work “Historical Wig Styling: Volumes 1 and 2”; Published by Focal Press/Taylor and Francis Group

– Mark Metzler — Department of Asian Studies, for his work “Capital as Will and Imagination: Schumpeter’s Guide to the Postwar Japanese Miracle”; Published by Cornell University Press

The Hamilton Awards are named in honor of Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regent Chair-Emeritus in Law. Professor Hamilton was chair of the Co-op Board for 12 years, from 1989 to 2001, and was in large measure responsible for the Co-op’s uncommon growth and profitability during that period. Visit this website for more about the award winners.

Lucie Brock-Broido to Speak on Campus Oct. 16

The UT Michener Center for Writers will host a reading by acclaimed poet Lucie Brock-Broido on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 7:30 pm in the Avaya Auditorium, POB 2.302, on UT campus.The event is free and open to the public.

Book Cover: Stay, IllusionBrock-Broido’s newest collection, Stay, Illusion, was a finalist in Poetry for the 2013 National Book Award.  Her previous collections include Trouble in Mind, The Master Letters, and A Hunger. Her poetry has appeared in many magazines and literary journals including The Paris Review, Parnassus:  Poetry in Review, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Nation, The New Republic, Best American Poetry, and The New Yorker. Director of Poetry in the School of Arts of Columbia University in NYC, she is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, NEA support, and the Witter-Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.